Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday that the United States should reconsider all its options in Afghanistan — including withdrawing more quickly than the current plan.
McCain, the chief congressional critic of President Obama’s plan to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by 2014, said Wednesday that the 2014 timeline to transfer security control to the Afghans should be completely re-evaluated in response to a spike in “insider attacks” and the suspension of most joint operations in the country.
He told reporters that the United States should contemplate keeping a larger force in Afghanistan past 2014, but should also consider removing troops earlier.
“I think all options ought to be considered, including whether we have to just withdraw early, rather than have a continued bloodletting that won’t succeed,” McCain said.
Obviously, this isn’t a complete shift to opposition to the war. But it does indicate that the insider attacks are far more serious than the Administration is making them out to be. McCain has his own sources at the Pentagon and in Afghanistan, no doubt. And his usual answer to any setback in war involves more troops for more years – “maybe 100.” And while he broaches the possibility of more troops here, he also gives strong consideration to just bugging out.
Of course, McCain blames the Obama strategy for this turn of events. But training Afghan forces would have been part of any war fighting strategy he would have come up with as President. Presumably he would still have had army bases like Camp Bastion, which was struck by a Taliban attack last Saturday in an incident McCain compared to the Tet offensive. I doubt McCain would have set a date certain for transfer of security to the Afghans – McCain favored a long-term presence in the country as recently as this year – but unless his plan was to ship all Afghan security forces out of the country, they would have remained in close proximity to the troops, meaning that the insider attacks would have had the opportunity to occur.
I don’t really care why McCain holds his current views. Maybe it’s rank partisanship. Maybe he just wants to tag the operation as another Obama failure. Whatever. If he thinks we should consider a faster timetable for withdrawal, I’m happy to have him on that side of the fence.